This week (7-11 October) is National Work Life Week, where employers and employees alike are encouraged to think about their work-life balance, and how work impacts their general wellbeing.
The UK is one of the worst countries in Europe when it comes to overworking: British employees work an average of 325 more hours each year than other European countries.
But, why is work-life balance so important, and how can we ensure we all have a bit more balance in our lives?
WHAT IS WORK LIFE BALANCE?
Work-life balance is the concept of having a health split between work and your personal life, having enough time to enjoy your hobbies, socialising, spending time with family and just relaxing after a busy day.
In the UK, however, many workers feel the need to put in extra hours, to manage their workload, or even just to be seen to be working hard.
Thanks to flexible working, almost 480 days of parental leave per child that parents can split between them, and the general acceptance of shorter working days, Sweden is ranked the top in the world for work-life balance.
In fact, in Sweden, staying late at work isn’t seen as a sign of hard work, as it is in the UK: it means you haven’t properly managed your time during the working day and is a sign of poor planning.
So, why haven’t we adopted this ideology in the UK, when we could all be benefitting from less workplace stress?
Implementing a better work-life balance for yourself can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Spending too much time at work can lead to heightened stress, anxiety, exhaustion and even a weakened immune system. Taking the time away from your desk can help to alleviate these symptoms.
Instead, you can invest this time into other things: why not try a yoga class, head out for a jog, curl up on the sofa with a good book, or even have your first early night in years. Your body and your mental health will thank you for it.
If you find yourself working endless hours of overtime, there are plenty of ways you can cut back your hours, so you’re only working what you’re contracted to.
Start by keeping a diary and write down the list of tasks you need to complete that day. You can also write yourself up a timetable each day. This can help you visualise everything you need to do and can make it much easier to stay on track, meaning you can head out the door when the clock hits 5pm.
It can be hard, but try not to take your work home with you: that means don’t check your emails on your phone as you catch up with Hollyoaks or worry about the next day at work.
It’s easier said than done, but if you try to leave work at work on a regular basis, it will become more normal.
A better work-life balance has many positive benefits and we should be learning from other countries around the world, who lead by example, putting their staff’s health and wellbeing first.
So, if nothing else, make a commitment to leave on time every day this week, and see where it leads you.